INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2010

INAUDIBLE is overjoyed to unveil his 2nd annual end of year listy list!

 
TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2010

25. Luke Abbott – Holkham Drones (Border Community)

Norfolk England producer Luke Abbott offers up a strong selection of electronic tracks that are modest yet immediately rewarding. Similar in a way to Boards of Canada, it’s rare that music primarily composed on a computer can also move a listener emotionally, striking between the invitation to dance or the opportunity to deliberate without diluting either approach’s effect. Abbott’s songs build in linear fashion, exploring psychedelic melody and synth-fuelled beats. I guess you could call it IDM, if people are still tossing that moniker around. Either way, it’s a smooth listen that works whether you’re both bobbing your head at a party or sunk comfortably into the couch.

Fave track: “Brazil”

 

24. Pausal – Lapses (Barge Recordings)

Pausal are a duo from Hampshire UK, and they create warm and impressionistic ambient soundscapes. Like Stars of the Lid, Mountains, and Marsen Jules, Pausal’s music has a sense of weightlessness and calm that washes over the listener, and the result is immersive and reflective. Lapses has sailed me off to soft slumber on many a night, and greeted many a morning with me as well. Warm and welcome layers of drone that pulse subtly and beautifully.

 

23. Pantha du Prince – Black Noise (Rough Trade)

Hendrik Weber made a strong return this year with the follow-up to his much acclaimed This Bliss avec Black Noise and it does not disappoint. With chimes and marimba acting as aural touchstones throughout, Black Noise shows the further evolutions of Weber’s melodic-robotic dichotomy and his penchant for deep and infectious bass. And speaking of infectious, “Stick To My Side”, Weber’s collaboration with Animal Collective’s Noah Lennox will leech itself into your memory banks and have you humming and singing it for days. Weber does a great job of melding 4/4 hitters alongside of more sedate and moody tracks, and the effect is captivating.

 

22. Toro Y Moi – Causers of This (Carpark Records)

2010 truly was a breakout year for chillwave and glo-fi musicians. I still find these names for sub-genres absolutely ridiculous, but Chad Bundick’s debut as Toro Y Moi is a slowburn of an album that just kept growing on me until I was completely smitten. I love his use of tape-hiss loops, cheap homemade beats, familiar samples, deep bass, and voice (not for the actual lyrics but for they way he uses his voice as added layers of sound). And although there are many other artists in the genre doing relatively the same sort of thing, Causers of This was the album I returned to most throughout the year. Fun, sunny, haphazard, and guaranteed to put a smile on any a hipster’s mug.

 

21. Bonobo – Black Sands (Ninja Tune)

Simon Green aka Bonobo released his fourth full length album and managed to somehow breathe new life into the weary genre of “chill out” and/or “downtempo”. Black Sands is no radical departure from his earlier musical palette, but Smith incorporates his love of world sounds, great string arrangements, a little dubstep, and amazing vocals from Andreya Triana, and fills the void left in the absence of new material from The Cinematic Orchestra. Black Sands is a groove-laden album that is sexy and introspective. Perfect for romantic dinner dates at home, where after the second bottle of wine, you’re up and shaking booty in the kitchen, making room for dessert. Check it.

Fave tracks: “Stay The Same”, “Kong”, and “Animals”

 

20. Flying Lotus – Cosmogramma (Warp Records)

Let’s be honest here, Fly Lo’s space odyssey is pretty damn dope and sprawling and ambitious, but it just never got the heavy rotation on my stereo that Los Angeles did. I know he felt he needed to rise above the countless producers who’d been biting on his style since 1983 and Los Angeles came out, and also wanted to create an aural homage to his musical family tree, and overall I think he was successful in those two realms, but in the end his late 2010 EP Pattern+Grid World had me more excited than Cosmogramma. That said, I still think he does a helluva job meshing drum-n-bass, hip-hop, jazz, psychedelia, and house to smashing effect, but at the end of the year, it just didn’t blow my head up the way I had originally anticipated. And to be honest, I think a lot of it just sounds like Squarepusher. There I said it. I’ve somehow managed to diss one of the most creative electronic artists alive today. But let me give him props by saying I look forward to all his future evolutions, be they missteps or the right steps.

 

19. Beach House – Teen Dream (Sub Pop)

Baltimore’s Beach House followed up the lovely Devotion with Teen Dream and revealed the perfect evolution of their sound, adding steady drums to the mix and offering up a mature collection of groovy and sexy tunes. Victoria Legrand’s voice has never sounded stronger or more emotionally assertive. The interplay between Alex Scally’s guitar and Legrand’s keyboards is smooth, gloomy, and warrants repeat listens. “Norway”, “Take Care”, and “Lover of Mine” are my favourite tracks, and what’s perhaps most telling is that the album is a generational crossover smash, inspiring teens and seasoned adults alike. Dream pop at its finest.

 

18. Onra – Long Distance (All City)

Onra changes things up with Long Distance, casting aside the old world samples that became his trademark in Chinoiseries, and 1.0.8, and adopts a smooth 80′s vibe instead. I imagine it being the sound of the 1980′s New York underground, and Onra lays it on thick and chilled. Dirty funk bass, hand clap beats, soul breaks, old skoool scratching, Lionel Ritchie guitars, moments reminiscent of J.J. Fad and bad 90′s muzak, plus some great guests makes this definitely one to check out. His live show in Toronto with Buddy Sativa was a bass-heavy throwdown and a live highlight of the year for me. I love everything this man has put out and look forward to his next shit.

 

17. Mount Kimbie – Crooks and Lovers (Hotflush)

While not quite as absorbing and heart stopping as their earlier EP’s Maybes and Sketch on Glass, Mount Kimbie‘s full-length debut still found itself on heavy rotation in my living room this year. I just kept putting it on again and again. It’s one of those albums that you can choose to either get completely absorbed in or just have on in the background as you do your thang, and its slowed down dubstep inflect is just right. As dubstep continued to grow, Mount Kimbie were a breath of fresh air in an oversaturated genre, because the young duo have their own definitive style which makes them stand out. Seeing them play live also revealed their strengths as they chose to play without laptops and did a fantastic job of recreating their bass-laden style in front of a crowd. Dig it!

 

16. Beach Fossils – Beach Fossils (Captured Tracks)

Beach Fossils emerged out of the hipster muck of Brooklyn and crafted a beautiful self-titled debut album, that effortlessly played out as the soundtrack of the summer. Comparing them to the xx seems a bit of a stretch, but just as the xx’s debut was the soundtrack to the grey days of last summer, Beach Fossils’ debut plays out as a pristine pop album for your pool party on a sunny day. There’s a bit of a surf rock feel, a bit of indie rock, Halifax pop, and a touch of Joy Division, making it an incredibly easy and fun record to listen to. That said, it breaks no new ground or boundary, but it’s a definitive grower of an album and comes highly recommended for a day at the beach or with a few drinks in the backyard.

Fave tracks: “Wide Awake” and “Daydream”

 

15. Scuba – Triangulation (Hotflush)

Hotflush head honcho Paul Rose aka Scuba continued his label’s thrilling run with a proper full-length of fluid, melodic dubstep that sounds beautiful and aggressive in equal measure. The album flows brilliantly building on dark mood, melodicism, and grimy beats. “Three Sided Shape” works alongside the territory Burial carved out, using cavernous bass drops and haunting vocals, while “You Got Me” leads in with propulsive bass that is perfect for crowded and dark dancefloors. “Lights Out” could find itself on any Echochord release or even as an old Theorem B-side and is the perfect closing track. Scuba’s had a great year, also putting out his Sub:stance mix in the early months of 2010, which is a fantastic set and a perfect primer into the world of dubstep, bass heavy music, and Hotflush records.

 

14. Darkstar – North (Hyperdub)

James Young and Aiden Whalley take a bold leap forward and backward with their debut album North, and help their label Hyperdub diversify in the process. The two-step beats and funky grime you’ve come to expect from Darkstar, have been replaced with cold synth lines and dark pop vocals courtesy of James Buttery. Essentially what we have here is a synth-pop album in the style of Junior Boys, yet where Junior Boys have worn their formula ragged, hackneyed, and thin, Darkstar add new life in the genre. Early standout track “Deadness” illuminates this quite well, with smooth synth, gently processed vocals, and an amazing darkwave guitar-line coda that evokes plenty of emotion and rainy day pathos. North is an emotional album full of slick production and great vocals.

 

13. Foals – Total Life Forever (Sub Pop)

UK scenesters, Foals, returned with Total Life Forever, the follow-up to their 2008 debut Antidotes and offered up a softened version of their sound with a fairly mature collection of songs. The first four tracks start the album off at a great pace, mixing moments reminiscent of Talking Heads with the earlier Foals sound to great effect. “Black Gold” is my fave track on the album and reveals the band’s new found maturity when it comes to composition. “Spanish Sahara” is their breakout hit, a slow-downed, mournful seven-minuter, that blasts into a cathartic emo kick in the end. Although, it was not where I expected their sound to go, I have returned to it many times during the year, and find it packs an emotional punch, while still retaining the inherent groove of a good rock album.

 

12. Crystal Castles – II (Fiction)

I don’t care about any of the hype or the bad press or the douchebaggery or the hoopla, I just care about the songs. Crystal Castles’ sophomore album is punk rock electro clash awesomeness. 8-bit beats and dirty and gorgeous analogue. Their sound is slightly less abrasive and a bit more poppy here than on their debut, but I find it a solid evolution of their Aphex-inspired DIY punk rock aesthetic. Alice Glass’ vox sounds great meshed in with Ethan Kath’s haphazard yet infectious production. The album was recorded at various locations, including a church in Iceland, a cabin in northern Ontario, and an abandoned convenience store in Detroit. This adds to the DIY pulse I dig so much. They can keep pissing off whoever they like, and I’ll just keep on listening.

Fave tracks: “Suffocation” and “Violent Dreams”

 

11. Pawel – Pawel (Dial Records)

Pawel’s self-titled long player was years in the making, but well worth the wait, because it’s a surprisingly tight and refreshing collection of smooove tech-house beats reminiscent of Audion, Theorem, and his Dial buddies Sten and Pantha du Prince. Tracks like “Coke” and “Dawn” get things cooking with that classic Kompaktesque four on the four vibe that’ll have you up and dancing, until he slows it all down with “Mate”, a beautifully atmospheric and subdued composition marking the album’s middle. He then turns it right back up with “Muscles” and “Crillon”, the disc’s heaviest hitters, and closes shop with two excellent tracks: the emotive and pulsing “Kramnik” and the fantastic, vocally-charged, “Wasting My Time”, which may actually be the album’s highlight. Dial Records has been incredibly relevant this year and Pawel started it off just right. More please.

 

10. The Fun Years – God Was Like, No (Barge Recordings)

Ben Recht and Isaac Sparks, the duo that make up The Fun Years, returned this year with the follow-up to the much revered Baby It’s Cold Inside with the excellently titled God Was Like, No. From the opening minutes of this album, when the minor chord guitar begins you immediately get pulled into their world — and it’s a bleak place, full of moody drones and post-rock guitar. This is a dark album, one that sucks you in and holds you there, yet never by force, because once it starts you want to hear it through to the end.

The album is broken up into eight tracks, but the whole thing flows as one 40 minute movement into the darkest post-rock and sensorial abduction. One could argue The Fun Years sound like a slowed down, pitch dropped Mogwai circa their Come on Die Young days. However I guess more genre specific references would be Ben Frost or Fennesz — still the post-rock vibe flows throughout, and may be one reason why I love it so much. Like their debut Baby it’s Cold Inside, God Was Like, No is unsettling music, but all I can say is, as the weather’s grown colder this album’s been on steady rotation. Here’s to a frozen and bleak next couple of months…

 

9. The Green Kingdom – Prismatic (Home Assembly)

Michael Cottone has been quietly making music under The Green Kingdom moniker since 2006, and with each release he further refines his brand of introspective ambient bliss. Cottone skillfully uses digitally enhanced acoustic guitar, strings, bells, and a myriad of samples and field recordings to create his compositions. Within his arrangements, melody and space work in tandem in an attempt to manifest what Cottone has called an “optimistic nostalgia” for the listener — an aural experience that can provide a momentary reprieve from the frenetic, fast-paced world that surrounds us. And indeed his music is perfect for contemplative mornings and quiet evenings, where the vibe is to “slow down” and to “reflect”. Prismatic is one of the finest ambient albums of 2010, and a prime example of electronic and organic sounds working together so effortlessly. Fans of Helios, Nest, The Boats, Kiln, and Susumu Yokota should check out The Green Kingdom immediately.

Fave tracks: “Wetlands” and “Radiance Reflected”

 

8. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor (Frenchkiss)

Local Natives appeared on the scene early in 2010, and at year’s end feel as if they’ve been around for years. Upon first listen, their influences seemed a little too apparent. They sounded a bit like Fleet Foxes, a bit like Grizzly Bear, with a touch of Pinback and Band of Horses — but after a few more spins, one quickly realizes Gorilla Manor possesses a dark, spiraling beauty. The band is perfectly capable of delivering big anthems strong on memorable hooks — the likes of “Shape Shifter” and brilliant opener “Wide Eyes” are sure to swim around the listener’s head for days. The rhythm section is tight, the guitars interweave wonderfully, yet the young band’s best asset are their strong and varied vocal talents. Quieter tracks like “Cards and Quarters”, “Cubism Dream”, and “Who Knows Who Cares” reveal their voices best, remind me of Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and offer up some lovely and emotional hooks.

Seeing them live made me appreciate their debut even more, as they presented their songs without a hint of pretension or rock-star attitude. They were just five young dudes having a fucking blast on their first headlining tour, and they played an amazingly tight set. In the end, Gorilla Manor is no classic — it’s still too indebted to its makers’ influences for that. But it is a strong, striking debut that exceeds expectations and should open enough doors for the band to ensure that their second album be one of the most anticipated records of the year. Lovely.

 

7. Nest – Retold (Serein)

Otto Totland, one half of neo-classicist duo Deaf Center, teamed up with Serein label head Huw Roberts and released Retold, a subtle masterpiece in piano-based ambience. Even on first listen, this record excels on every level as a piece of cinematic, modern classical composition. Each song is slow and deliberate evoking mood and solitary wonder. Using piano as the cornerstone for each song, samples, and strings are gently meshed to startling result. “Trans Siberian” features the distant blare of a locomotive, wintry drones, fractured strings, and what sounds like drops of rain hitting a piece of paper and the crackle of a fire, as it swirls moodily along. Retold is truly a special album and one that you must discover for yourself, as it grows with each successive listen and yet always sounds fresh. I’ve returned to this album time and time again, and consider it the finest in the genre of modern-classical released this year.

 

6. Wild Nothing – Gemini (Captured Tracks)

I’ve really loved the indie pop 80’s revival that has been becoming more and more prominent in the last year or so, and no one does it better than Virginia native, Jack Tatum, the man behind Wild Nothing. So often in these cases, where bands are attempting to sound like the heroes of their youth, I end up saying to myself, well shit, I’d really just rather listen to The Smiths or New Order, than some dudes who are trying to sound like them. But with Wild Nothing, even though his influences are startlingly apparent, there’s still something riveting about it. Because after I recognize the outside influence on a track (The Smiths, Cocteau Twins, The Cure, New Order, Belle and Sebastian, et al.), I forget about it and it becomes all Wild Nothing.

Gemini and the recently released Golden Haze EP are pure pop genius. Tatum possesses a keen ear for melody and composition and plays the bass just as well as the guitar. Chugging and veering basslines in “Confirmation”, “The Witching Hour”, and “Your Rabbit Feet” from Golden Haze carry the tracks from really good to fucking awesome. His guitar work is also worth mentioning as he tends to use two weaving guitar lines accentuated by synth and he uses distortion and reverb to great effect.

The fact that Tatum plays all the instruments on the album, allows him to always stick to his musical vision, and also reveals his uncanny ability to write songs that stick in your head but never get stale. I’ve listened to Gemini so many goddamn times this year it’s embarassing, and yet I keep going back again and again. “Pessimist”, “Chinatown” and “The Witching Hour” are fantastic pop songs that everyone should have stuck in their heads. I look forward to new material in the coming year, as well as, his first live show in Toronto in February. Shoegazers unite!

 

5. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (Def Jam)

I have a lot of guilty pleasures when it comes to mainstream music. Rihanna: Love her. Aaliyah: Would’ve died for her. Katy Perry: Secret shame. Usher? Craig David? Justin Timberlake? Jay-Z? They’ve been known to set me off as I get ready to go out for the night. I can’t help it. I grew up listening to cheesy pop music and bad R&B, so how can I turn it off now? I cannot and I will not.

Now, I’ve always had a soft spot for Kanye West. Ever since College Dropout came out you could occasionally find me blasting his tunes, learning his weak rhymes, and dancing to his ever slick production. And even though with each release he was becoming more and more a caricature of himself in the media, his music kept getting stronger and stronger. The man is a sponge, sucking up influences from all over and he’s got the money to make it happen. When I moved from Montreal to New Brunswick, Late Registration was my soundtrack, and when I left NB to move to Toronto, it was Graduation that I was playing as my outro from the Maritimes.

Flash forward to 2010. Kanye’s media attack has really been nothing short of brilliant. From his impromptu a-capella rap at Facebook HQ, to his “Power” it’s not a video it’s a painting, to his incessant Tweets, to his 30 minute beautifully shot, terribly acted, yet no less captivating short film, “Runaway”. And with each one of these media plugs he slowly gave us tastes and snippets of his new opus, and in the process he effectively sucked me in.

The excitable folks over at Pitchfork decided to give Fantasy a perfect 10, and while it’s a far cry from a perfect album, it is still one of the most exciting listens of the year. “All of the Lights” is an absolute banger, that is so undeniably thrilling I truly cannot believe it. The second half of “Runaway” reveals some of the most innovative work written with Auto-tune thus far. “So Appalled” is fucking ridiculous but I still love it. Opener “Dark Fantasy” features a perfect hip-hop beat and helps us all find bravery in our bravado. “Lost in the World” with Bon Iver is an amazing crossover hit and a fitting closer. And overall, the album plays out smooove from start to finish. Truly, the “Runaway” short film helped make this album what it is — its viewers craved the best moments of the album before it was released, and it revealed Yeezy is more than just a musician, he really is an “artist”, even if he has an entire team of people helping him become one.

At the end of the day, I don’t care, yo. I still love this album.

To paraphrase CyHi Da Prynce from the album: “If God had an iPod, Ye’d be on his playlist.”

 

4. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs (Merge Records)

The Suburbs is an album that blossoms a bit more with each successive listen, and one that is full of dynamic and proper indie rock songs that subtly recall your favourite musicians from the last 30 years. A small list: The Boss, The Beatles, The Byrds, The Who, The Doors, Heart, Cyndi Lauper, U2, Yo La Tengo, Broken Social Scene, Bon Iver, David Byrne, oh yeah, and Arcade Fire. It is an amazingly calculated and mature collection of songs that immediately churns up a strong sense of nostalgia and emotion. But for this listener, the reason The Suburbs is such a genuine winner, and the reason it rests near the top of my list for 2010, is the lyrics. They really resonate with me.

I am unsure if a twenty-year old listener would feel the same way, but I wonder: what contemporary album has had lyrics that actually, truly speak to my generation? “A mulatto, an albino, a mosquito, my libido?” I think not. The Suburbs is the Nevermind of twenty years later, where we no longer want to oh well, whatever, nevermind — now what we want to do is remember the past, and take hold of all the stupid mistakes and amazing strides we made to get to exactly where we happen to be now. To reflect on the past and laugh and shake it all off and keep on keeping on whatever good paths we’ve set for our futures…

“Month of May”, “Ready to Start” and “We Used to Wait” are solid and tight rockers that you can blast in your living room and get swept away in. “Modern Man” and “Rococo” are also great songs with strong lyrics, and “The Suburbs”, “Deep Blue”, “Suburban War”, “Sprawl I / II” pack the emotional wallops with tight changes and great orchestral accompaniment to boot. And then the lyrics of the end reprise sums it all up beautifully:

If I could have it back
All the time that we wasted
I’d only waste it again
If I could have it back
You know I’d love to waste it again
Waste it again and again and again

 

3. Ben Swire – From Here to There (Preservation Records)

San Francisco based musician Ben Swire came out of nowhere this year and released the gorgeous From Here to There — a sweeping album of enveloping ambience and thoughtfully processed acoustic instrumentation. Swire skillfully weaves electronic elements, field recordings, and conventional instruments (guitar, bass, percussion) into fluid, meticulously arranged set-pieces that retain an experimental edge without losing sight of musicality and melodicism.

There’s a jazz motif and a minimal techno pulse that runs throughout the album as well, making it by far the smoothest album of the year for me. From Here to There has been my soundtrack to writing essays for school, studying, reading, waking, sleeping, long walks, trudging streetcar rides, and more. It’s an album that defies defintion, being moody, dark, light, airy, and carrying a strong pulse and steady rhythm throughout. Not surprisingly, it is my most listened to album of the year according to my computer’s playlist, and one that will continue to be played wholeheartedly in 2011. L’amour it!

 

2. Autechre – Oversteps / Move of Ten (Warp Records)

In honour of the fact that Autechre have been making robots dance for two decades, Rob Brown and Sean Booth released twenty new tracks in 2010 split onto two separate albums, both just as equally captivating and haunting. Oversteps and Move of Ten are melodic and strangely emotive records that emit far different sonic vibrations than the duo’s last three full-lengths.

There’s no conscious way one can fully understand the compositional mind of Autechre, you just put them on and know that patience will reward. But with their new work, the duo’s vibe will immediately pull you in and have you convinced machines must feel love before Oversteps opener “r ess” is done. Their signature klings, klangs, and syncopated rhythms are in full effect here, and with repeated listens they become infectious, full of darkened corners strobed with light. Autechre is one of the reasons I fell in love with electronic music in the first place. Tri Repetae, along with Music Has the Right from Boards and Aphex’s Richard D. James album (the Warp trifecta), effectively helped foster my love of electronic music, and helped me push the boundaries of my own musical pallette. Music need not be linear or have build-ups and crescendoes, it just needed to eke out emotion, and somehow Autechre’s always been able to do that for me, even though their methods have been completely methodical and computer-based.

Years ago, Jake Mandell put out an album entitled Love Songs for Machines, and with Oversteps and Move of Ten, Autechre have truly done exactly that. Two decades of pushing the boundaries of composition and leaving hundreds of copycat artists in their wake, none even remotely close to them in style and execution and fear and emotion.

Both Oversteps and Move of Ten are not beat heavy albums at all, in fact the tempo is more subdued and textured throughout, which reveals a definite maturation of the duo’s sound and synthesis. As usual, both albums are not the easiest of listens, yet will reward the patient listener and become much more than just the sum of their parts, in fact they become Autechre’s strongest output in half a decade. Furthermore, in many ways Autechre have put out homages to the other heroes of the Warp trifecta — “nth Dafuseder.b” sounds very much like a BoC track, while “M62” could have been mined from Aphex’s archives. Still, their strongest tracks are ones that are abstract and build on the strange digital emotion they are able to pull out of the wireless air. Tracks like “O=0”, “see on see”, and “iris was a pupil”, reveal this the best.

I hope to see Autechre on my top list again in another decade, and wonder if their music will have morphed into an inaudible sensation that one experiences remotely from space. Thank you Ae and Warp for twenty years of groovy mindfuck. More please. New Boards in 2012 is my friend Mat’s call. Let’s hope we make it there.

 

1. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz (Asthmatic Kitty)

I was really quite surprised not to see this album on many top lists this year. I wonder if Sufjan had instead released a sprawling opus to Massachusetts or Wisconsin or Texas and stuck to his earlier indie-rock sensibility and sensitivity if this album wouldn’t be resting high on the top of the big lists this year. But alas, it is not, and I can only believe it is because listeners didn’t give it enough of a chance. And to be sure, I remember feeling overwhelmed and spent after my first complete listen of The Age of Adz. Like the title of the album’s second track, it really felt like “too much” — but I knew it was full of magic and amazing production and uncompromising emotion on a grand scale. And so I kept listening.

The new material from Adz is above and beyond anything Sufjan has produced thus far, mixing folk, electronica, pop, cinematic orchestra and indie rock, and filtering it all through the sensibilities of a Broadway musical. Its production value is what makes it a challenge, as it’ll take a few listens for you to take it all in, but what makes it brilliant is that by the second listen, you’ll already find the melodies glued to your brain. You’ll wake up humming the chorus to “I Walked” and end up singing the coda of “Vesuvius” in the shower. The repetitive nature of the lyrics and the simple melodies hidden under the surface makes Adz a highly accessible album, yet some may still find it too “electronic” or “layered” for their tastes, but for me I couldn’t have asked for a better amalgamation of my ear’s favourite things — electronic production smashed together with perfect pop melodies.

The album is book-ended brilliantly, beginning with “Futile Devices”, Sufjan alone with his guitar, pulling at your heartstrings immediately, before the album veers off into more abstract territory. At the end of the 25-minute “Impossible Soul”, the old Sufjan resurfaces out of the esoteric splendour, and closes the album alone again with just his voice and guitar. In five minutes out of seventy, he effortlessly reveals he is still one of the finest singer-songwriter’s out there, with the uncanny ability to make you want to cry, yet cheer for the future. But he has bigger aspirations, and no longer needs to write an album full of emotive ballads anymore.

Highlights for me are “Get Real Get Right”, “Vesuvius”, Too Much” and “Impossible Soul”. “Impossible Soul” is my favourite song of the year, as it embraces and exploits practically every genre of the last fifty years — from 60′s rock to Disney-esque orchestra to hip-hop to techno to simple folk. What other song features a raunchy guitar solo, an inspirational sing-a-long, and some kick ass Autotune? And more importantly, what other song smashes all these genres together and does it so effectively? I’ve yet to find any other.

My attempt to describe this album falls way short of articulating the true grandeur of what occurs throughout the span of the record. His live show was the best concert of the year for me, just as The Age of Adz is my favourite album. It’s not an album I can put on at any time of the day or night, but it’s one that will be played time and again for the rest of my life. Give it a real listen and discover its beauty.

Yes! I made it to the fucking end!

 
HONORABLE AUDIBLES

Loscil – Endless Falls (Kranky)
Marc Houle – Drift (Minus Records)
Pop Ambient 2010 (Kompakt Records)
Donato Dozzy – K (Further Records)
Erik K Skodvin – Flare (Sonic Pieces)
The Besnard Lakes are The Roaring Night (Jagjaguwar)
Oneohtrix Point Never – Returnal (Editions Mego)
Ikonika – Contact, Love, Want, Have (Hyperdub)
Shed – The Traveller (Ostgut Ton)
The Chap – Well Done Europe (Lo Recordings)
The Sight Below – It All Falls Apart (Ghostly International)

 
R.I.P. Jay Reatard (1980-2010)

 
Thanks for reading everyone!
Best wishes for 2011!

Love,

ml

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10 Responses to “INAUDIBLE’S BEST OF 2010”

  1. Vismund Says:

    GREAT LIST! I really enjoyed the write-ups as well, we may be the same person!

  2. mmmlele Says:

    Thanks Vismund!

  3. Stephanie Says:

    Great reviews! Thanks for keeping a busy gal up to date on the finest. I totally trust every word.

  4. urbansteve Says:

    wicked reviews and list. still trying to get mine together for posting. still haven’t listened to autechre’s album – i know, criminal isn’t it?

  5. Dalb Says:

    Not a bad list at all, really should get to listening to that Luke Abott album. I’ve seen his name crop up in some pretty excellent mixes, so thanks for the reminder! Hope 2011 bears as much great music for you, sir

  6. mmmlele Says:

    Thanks for the comments all. Have a fancy 2011!

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